I’ve gotten validation for my cemetery tours from an unlikely source — Google Maps.
If I ever thought that my hobby of visiting pioneer cemeteries is “weird,” Google Maps has put an end to that. Why? People LOVE my cemetery photos on Google Maps. So there are far too many of us “weirdos” for it to be “weird” anymore.
I joined the Google Local Guides program mostly for fun and to get help with some photo posting issues. I don’t get many perks and no pay, but I do get positive reinforcement and validation in some unexpected ways. The gamification itself doesn’t motivate me. With just a few points awarded for each contribution, it’s taking freaking forever to get to the next level.
What makes me surprised, encouraged and curious is the number of views my photos get. Since 99% of my Google Map photos are cemetery photos of mostly small semi-rural cemeteries, that is a LOT of people interested in cemeteries. The Butteville Cemetery is a pleasant place, but c’mon, it’s not exactly a tourist attraction. Or maybe it is? Established in 1836, Butteville Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries I’ve visited in the West.
But that’s small potatoes compared to these happenin’ hotspots.
I can’t help but wonder why my photos are viewed so often. It’s true that my photos are sometimes the first photos, or the only photos, of a cemetery. This is partly because I know a couple tricks for adding photos to Google Map entries when there’s no “add a photo” button. It’s also partly because I’m willing to tromp uphill and through blackberries and weeds to find and photograph some tiny, obscure, overgrown pioneer cemetery.
It’s probably the case that “armchair tourism” has increased during the pandemic. And sadly, it’s also the case that cemetery visits for burials have increased during the pandemic.
Regardless of the reasons why, and despite my indifference to gamification, I was pleased to learn recently that I had reached some kind of views milestone. I’m sure that many, many people have reached 2 million views of their photos, and I’m nowhere near being a “top photographer,” but the positive feedback intent is appreciated. So I’ll keep doing what I’m doing and you can enjoy the view.
Stump and Lamb explores personal growth and meaning via travels to pioneer cemeteries of the West.
This post was originally published at michellerau.com.